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Microsoft Patents Your Rights Online

Bill Gates Knows What You Did Last Summer 303

theodp writes "Give Bill Gates your 'pictures, videos, documents, e-mail, instant messages, addresses, calendar dates/scheduling information (e.g., birthdays, anniversaries, appointments), voice mail, phone logs, RSS feeds, subscriptions, bookmarks, mail lists, project management features, computing device data, tasks and location data,' and he'll improve your 'quality of life.' That's the promise behind a patent issued Thursday to Bill Gates and his 20 co-inventors for 'Personal Data Mining', which Microsoft notes 'can include a monetization component' that 'could initiate an auction to sell information to the highest bidder.'"
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Bill Gates Knows What You Did Last Summer

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  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:07PM (#31024756)
    Nobody would expect that!
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:30PM (#31025046) Journal

    How long did that take them?

    Longer than I'd like, yes. Nonetheless, things are changing.

    Look at Outlook Web Access - it still doesn't allow you to use the useful interface if you don't use IE, despite the fact that Firefox handles it fine. (try switching your useragent)

    Fixed in Exchange 2010 - full version of OWA is now supported [] in Firefox and Safari.

    Yes, that took a while, too, but better late than never.

    They've just *barely* started supporting other browsers. I guess that's cause for some praise, but Google has supported other browsers since the beginning.

    I'm not saying that Google isn't historically doing much better on that front (for one thing, it annoys me that neither Office Live nor OWA support Opera).

    I was merely correcting GGP's generalized assertion that "Microsoft ... take offense if you are not using their platform".

  • by b4dc0d3r ( 1268512 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:30PM (#31025050)

    (apologies for the formatting, I just created this 20 minutes ago for my own purposes). Bottom line: the entire intention of this "feature" is misguidedly implemented, showing a complete lack of testing using the common 'alternative' platform.

    Visiting with FireFox and NoScript gives the following message:

    <table border=0 height=95%>
    <tr><td valign=middle>
    <div><center><b>One Moment Please...</b></center></div><br>
    <div>To help optimize how your Web pages are displayed, we are checking to see if a 2007 Microsoft Office program is installed.</div><br>
    <div>If this page does not automatically redirect, you have scripts disabled. <a href='/_services/errors/error.aspx?id=5'>See more information on scripts.</a></div><br>
    <div><a href=''>Follow this link if the page is not redirected.</a></div>

    Enabling scripts, loading the page, then disabling scripts, results in the message at the top of the page, along with the requested page content (which doesn't appear prior to loading scripts):

    Warning: This site requires the use of scripts, which your browser does not currently allow. See how to enable scripts.

    That seems to be a disconnect. The second message shows that the site can be used with scripts disabled. The only reason I see the "One Moment Please..." message is the lack of cookies. In theory, the browser would check which versions are installed, and then show customized content for your version. IE browser allows ActiveX controls which could access the local filesystem, which can report that information.

    VBScript function ofctestax() creates objects using the following CLSID values and then calls GetOfficeX() and/or GetOfficeLcid() functions to see what's installed:

    • 4453D895-F2A1-4A38-A285-1EF9BD3F6D5D
    • 6632AA50-49DC-475B-B911-A02B84C7C794
    • C9712B19-838B-45A5-ABF2-9A315DDDED50

    It then calls the function ofcpost() which sets cookies describing which versions are installed. ofctestax() is called inline from a script at the bottom of the page.
    How does this work in FireFox?

    if (typeof(window.external)=='undefined') {
    if (navigator.mimeTypes['application/x-msoffice12'] != null && !IsOpera())
    document.write("<embed id='ofcnp' type='application/x-msoffice12' f='ofcpost' width='0' height='0'>");
    else if (navigator.mimeTypes['application/x-msoffice'] != null && !IsOpera())
    document.write("<embed id='ofcnp' type='application/x-msoffice' f='ofcpost' width='0' height='0'>");
    } else {
    if (typeof(ofctestax)!='undefined')

    ofctestax is a VBScript function, so in IE and any browsers supporting VBScript, it will run. In other browsers, it will not be recognized, and thus be undefined. ofcpost() function is called with default values, setting cookies to uninformative values.

    With no cookies, this happens, because ofcpost() calls post() function:

    <script language='JavaScript'><!--
    function post()

  • Re:Privacy (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:37PM (#31025130)

    Another way to combat this is to gather such information on Gates, other high-profile corporate figures, and politicians. Then publically post them onto highly visible Web sites. I mean after all, they think no privacy is such a great idea, right? Let them be the pioneers.

    I agree.

    The ChaosComputerClub in Germany published a government official's fingerprints in a magazine after he introduced legislation to get everyone's fingerprints.
    I think they did them on an easy to 'apply' foil sheet.

    I believe someone in the UK is offering a reward for Jacqui Smith's fingerprints after she proposed similar laws.
    I hear she has since become paranoid about what she touches in public. I wonder if her garbage has any fingerprints.

    Monica Lewinski really collected Bill Clinton's DNA as a pre-emptive move against DNA retention laws. Just kidding.

  • by Teun ( 17872 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @02:43PM (#31025210) Homepage
    For me it's not so much what Google did earn, it's especially what Microsoft did to lose any trust.
  • by Reilaos ( 1544173 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @03:01PM (#31025396) Homepage
    To be fair, Google did improve the quality of my (online) life.
  • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @04:29PM (#31026456) Journal

    The Video Privacy Protection Act [] was passed after the video rental records of a Supreme Court nominee were leaked. So your suggestion does have precedence.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @04:44PM (#31026674) Journal

    Actually, modern research suggests you are at least partially wrong. In fact, less than 5% of people will act that way the majority of the time and regardless of circumstance. Around 15% will almost always act in a fair and equitable manner, even if everyone around them is cheating and acting unfairly. The rest will act fairly when in fair situations, and take advantage only when they see the majority of people around them taking advantage.

    Google 'fairness reciprocity economic research.' Most people are not in fact driven primarily by self interest, but by notions of fairness and reciprocity. Look up games theory on wikipedia for an interesting jumping off point if you are interested, read about some of the experimental games played, and how people do not act to maximize their personal benefits, but to create and maintain justice.

    We're not all evil, but the belief that 'we're all evil' is itself a primary motivation to act in a selfish fashion.

  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @05:48PM (#31027500) Journal

    If you're running AdBlock, click on the blacklist for that site. In my case, it's literally the first time I've seen that AdBlock has a mechanism for handling more blocked scripts than my screen can display.

    If you're not running AdBlock, and you value your privacy at all, don't read the article.

    6 Doubleclick cookies, a Quantserve pixel, cookies AND a pixel image from 2o7, more scripts from more companies than I care to count.

    "My God! It's full of crap!"

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.